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How to Become a Behavior Intervention Specialist

July 2, 2021

A behavior intervention specialist, also known as BIS, helps teachers and students in a classroom by  implementing behavior intervention plans, also known as BIP, in the field of special education.  

How to Become a Behavior Intervention Specialist https://autismparentingmagazine.com/behavior-intervention-specialist

The titles of a professional behavior support specialist may change slightly due to level of education, the type of college they went to, what certification level they hold, and also the region of the world they reside in.  Their role remains the same in the classroom to provide support to the student who is displaying challenging behaviors and may require additional educational support and services to achieve success in school and among their peers in social settings.

What is a behavior intervention specialist?

A behavior intervention specialist brings professional behavior support to educational environments that assist teachers and parents with training that is specific to changing maladaptive or negative behaviors  into behaviors that are more appropriate and functional. 

A behavior intervention specialist has training to collect data on challenging behaviors, determine the function of why behaviors are happening in the school or home environment, and write  behavioral intervention programs that can be implemented at the school by other behavioral specialists or another professional with a certificate in behavioral analysis. 

These professionals have the certification and education to oversee the program implemented and make any necessary adjustments as goals are mastered or new challenging behaviors appear.  They help educate teachers and parents about the strategies they use in group or individual settings so that there is a continuity of services and support in both home and school environments.

What is a behavior interventionist?

Meanwhile, the role of a behavior interventionist or behavior technician is different. A behavior interventionist works to help implement the behavioral intervention plan, or BIP, that was created by the behavior intervention specialist.  The focus of the behavior interventionist is to attend to the child’s behaviors using the programs that were strategized by the intervention specialist.

The behavior interventionist will collect data from each session and note any changes in behaviors, both positive and negative.  They will follow the sequence that was approved by the educational team supporting the student and provide a daily report to the teacher or parent. 

If there are disabilities or psychological needs, other professional team members will be brought in to address how the health or emotional needs are affecting behavior and discuss additional support or service that may be needed to ensure success for the student or child. 

Autism has a high comorbidity rate, which means that an autism diagnosis is often paired with another medical diagnosis or condition such as ADHD, ADD, or dyslexia.

A behavior interventionist may work at one school or many different schools within a school district depending on their contract. They may also work with parents at home through the school district’s home support intervention resource team. These types of programs help support the students with continuity of care between a variety of different environments.

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How do you become a behavior intervention specialist?

Becoming a behavior intervention specialist requires a lot of patience and a love of working with children with disabilities. Working with challenging behaviors every day can lead to burn out if self-care is not properly managed and balanced.  It is also a very rewarding feeling to see the changes that you have helped children make and to see them thrive and succeed on their educational journey.

Starting as a behavioral interventionist or behavior technician, you will be trained with the strategies of applied behavioral analysis, also known as ABA.  These principles use reinforcements to encourage positive behavior and help alter negative behaviors. 

A certification as an RBT, or registered behavioral technician, can be earned after completing a 40-hour training course and passing the RBT certification exam.  A behavioral interventionist, behavioral technician, and a registered behavior technician all work under the supervision of a behavior intervention specialist or someone with a Master’s degree in applied behavioral analysis, or ABA.  A BCBA is a board certified behavior analysist that has completed the Master’s program in ABA and has passed the board certification exam. You can also obtain your license to become a licensed behavior analyst, commonly known as a LBA.

To become a BCBA, board certified behavior analyst, or a LBA, licensed behavior analyst, you need to have completed a college degree at the Master’s level in applied behavioral analysis, or ABA, and pass the board exam. 

BCBAs and LBAs are both behavior intervention specialists. Any certification as a behavior intervention specialist will allow you to apply for jobs working in special education, the special needs populations, and schools that specialize in learning disabilities.  You may work with children that have emotional needs or disorders that struggle to work their their courses without assistance in behavior support. 

Different states and different countries may have additional requirements that must be met before working as a mental health professional.  If you are interested in taking courses in applied behavior analysis, do search the requirements in the state that you live in to make sure all required certifications or courses are met.

What qualifications do you need to be a behavior intervention specialist?

The qualifications you need to rise up the ranks and become a behavior intervention specialist are a college Master’s degree in psychology, behavioral health, or applied behavior analysis.  After you complete your degree, you will be able to continue your education by taking additional certifications and board exams to become board certified as a BCBA or board certified behavior analyst.  Many behavior professionals will continue their education from there to obtain a PhD in applied behavior analysis.

This level of certification requires supervision hours as well, so most behavior specialists have worked as a behavior interventionist or sought employment in this field while finishing their own education and certification programs.  These programs give the resources that are appropriate for professionals working in the field of applied behavior analysis. Different states and different countries may have a different amount of required supervised hours to complete, so be sure to search your region for specific details on obtaining certification as a behavior specialist.


A behavior intervention specialist is someone who works with children that have emotional and behavioral challenges in school or home environments. A behavior intervention specialist is a qualified behavioral health professional who is able to collect data on behavior, identify the function of the challenging behavior, and create a behavior intervention plan (or BIP). 

The school creates a team for education support within the special education programs to fit the individual needs the student may have. Interventions in the classroom will be supported by the teacher and any interventionists that have a certificate or focus in special education that can attend to the program written by the intervention specialist. 

If you feel that you need extra support for your family or child with challenging behaviors, reach out to your school district or behavior health professional for individualized help so that your child can achieve success.

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